If you’re considering enrolling in one of the accredited online LVN programs in California, there are a few important things you should be aware of first. Online learning does offer students a great deal of flexibility with their class schedules and eliminate the issue of travel to and from school, but for some types of students, it also has potential limitations. In this article we’ll look at some of the important differences between preparing to take the NCLEX-PN (the exam required for licensure as an LVN) in an online environment and a traditional classroom.
Full Online LVN Programs vs. Hybrid Programs
Before diving into any comparison between online LVN programs and traditional LVN schools in California, it is important to point out that there are two different types of online learning options offered in the state – full online programs and so-called hybrid programs. Both allow students to study the curriculum’s theoretical material in a virtual environment, but hybrid programs also incorporate hands-on training in hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities during the clinical portion of their coursework. Full online programs do not include clinical training, meaning that you will have to make arrangements to complete your required clinical hours on your own outside of class.
It is important to be certain which type of program you’re enrolling in because you will not be allowed to sit for the NCLEX-PN unless you have completed the 954 hours of clinical training required by the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT). For this reason, unless you have prior experience that satisfies this requirement, it is highly recommended that you choose to enroll in a hybrid online program that includes these essential hours in its curriculum.
The Advantages of Online LVN Programs in California
Becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse in California requires a total of 1,530 hours of rigorous study, 576 of which focuses on theory. Depending on the student, it is possible to learn all of the prerequisite theory on subjects like Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology through online learning just as easily as by sitting in a classroom. And, provided that you enroll in one of the aforementioned hybrid programs, you will get the same amount of clinical experience that you would through an on-campus program.
Aside from offering students the same required training as traditional classroom programs, online LVN programs also provide several other advantages:
If you work, have family responsibilities, or have any other priorities that make it difficult for you to find time for school, online learning is an excellent option. Classes are available wherever and whenever you have the time for them.
Tuition for online LVN programs is usually significantly lower than traditional schooling. Not only that, but you’ll save money on study materials like books (they’re offered online as part of most courses), paper, pens and pencils, and test forms. You’ll also save money on transportation and parking.
If you’re the type of person who has struggled in traditional classrooms, studying to become an LVN online can be a blessing. You will dictate your pace and style of study. For those who learn quickly, and those who at times struggle to keep up, this is a great advantage.
Disadvantages of Online LVN Programs
While the comparative freedom and loose structure of online learning can be perfect for some students, it can create significant pitfalls for others. The disadvantages of online LVN programs most-often cited by students include:
Limited Social Interaction
Online classes always include forums, message boards and other electronic means for students to communicate with each other and the instructor. For people who learn better through face-to-face interaction, or who struggle with computers, however, this may not be enough for them to be successful.
Lack of Supervision
The same freedom to study at your own pace that makes online classes so appealing to some students can be a recipe for disaster to others. If you’re the type of person who procrastinates a lot, or gets sidetracked easily by distractions, the open structure of online LVN programs can allow you to fall behind quickly.
A Final Word on Online LVN Programs in California
If you’ve already weighed the pros and cons of distance learning, and have decided to enroll in an online program to prepare for the NCLEX-PN, there is one more important thing you must consider – accreditation.
You will come across many online schools offering Licensed Vocational Nursing degrees, but not all of these will be accredited by the BVNPT. Because approval from the BVNPT is required in order to receive an authorization to test (i.e. take the NCLEX-PN), it is absolutely crucial that you check for accreditation before registering for classes with any online LVN programs in California.
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